Friday, January 30, 2015

18th Century word origin

M. Boulanger, signaling the post-revolutionary end of great aristocratic kitchens in France and the beginning of chefs making themselves commercially available for the masses, put a sign outside his Parisian soup restaurant in 1765, saying...

 "Venite omnes qui stomacho laboratis, et ego restauranto vos."

[or, "Come all ye who labor with the stomach, and I will restore you"].

 Thus today's word "restaurant" from restauranto.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

xkcd on p values

The pop-up text on the cartoon added the following:

If all else fails, use "significant at the p>0.05 level" and hope no one notices.

The Onion : I Don’t Vaccinate My Child Because It’s My Right To Decide What Eliminated Diseases Come Roaring Back

As a mother, I put my parenting decisions above all else. Nobody knows my son better than me, and the choices I make about how to care for him are no one's business but my own. So, when other people tell me how they think I should be raising my child, I simply can't tolerate it. Regardless of what anyone else thinks, I fully stand behind my choices as a mom, including my choice not to vaccinate my son, because it is my fundamental right as a parent to decide which eradicated diseases come roaring back.

The decision to cause a full-blown, multi-state pandemic of a virus that was effectively eliminated from the national population generations ago is my choice alone, and regardless of your personal convictions, that right should never be taken away from a child's parent. Never.

Say what you will about me, but I've read the information out there and weighed every option, so I am confident in my choice to revive a debilitating illness that was long ago declared dead and let it spread like wildfire from school to school, town to town, and state to state, until it reaches every corner of the country. Leaving such a momentous decision to someone you haven't even met and who doesn't care about your child personally—now that's absurd! Maybe I choose to bring back the mumps. Or maybe it's diphtheria. Or maybe it's some other potentially fatal disease that can easily pass among those too young or too medically unfit to be vaccinated themselves. But whichever highly communicable and formerly wiped-out disease that I opt to resurrect with a vengeance, it is a highly personal decision that only I and my family have the liberty to make.

The bottom line is that I'm this child's mother, and I know what's best. End of story. Politicians, pharmaceutical companies—they don't know the specific circumstances that made me decide to breathe new life into a viral infection that scientists and the nation at large celebrated stamping out roughly a century ago. It seems like all they care about is following unexamined old rules, injecting chemicals into our kids, preventing ghastly illnesses that used to ravage millions and have since been erased from storming back and wreaking mass havoc on a national scale, and making a buck. Should we really be listening to them and not our own hearts?

I am by no means telling mothers and fathers out there what to do; I'm simply standing up for every parent's right to make his or her own decision. You may choose to follow the government-recommended immunization schedule for your child, and that's your decision as a parent. And I might choose to unleash rubella on thousands upon thousands of helpless people, and that's mydecision as a parent.

It's simple: You don't tell me how to raise my kids to avoid reviving a horrific illness that hasn't been seen on our shores since our grandparents were children, and I won't tell you how to raise yours.

Look, I've done the research on these issues, I've read the statistics, and I've carefully considered the costs and benefits, and there's simply no question in my mind that inciting a nationwide health emergency by unleashing a disease that can kill 20 percent or more of its victims is the right one for my child.

People need to respect that and move on.,37839/

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Should I stay or should I go ?

Should I stay or should I go ?

I frequently send emails to a large group of people. Some of you 
favor me with an occasional reply. As for the rest, it seems as if my 
emails streak off to your mailbox, and is lost in the Intertubes of 
Perhaps it is read. Perhaps it is automatically shunted to your "junk 
mail" folder. I know not.
As a result, I'm evaluating my "Send To" list to determine if my 
emails are wanted, or unwanted.
Please choose One of the following two choices:
YES ! 
Please keep me on your distribution list. I always look forward to 
your fascinating finds and amusing missives. It brightens my day. 
Every morning I rush to my computer to read them. Indeed, it is the 
sole reason my feet hit the floor each morning. Without your emails, 
despair would eclipse my joy. The laughter of children would be as 
the cackle of crows. Life itself would not be worth living.
NO !!! 
Take me off your email list. A pox upon your Send button. A specific 
Circle in Hell is reserved for Spammers like you. Never darken my 
Inbox again.
Most likely your response falls somewhere between those two 
extremes. Please pick the one closest to your feelings, and let me 
Non-Reponses will be taken as evidence that my emails do indeed go 
directly to your delete folder, and so I will act on that assumption. 
No offense will be taken.

The Bizarre Mirages That Once Scared the Bejesus Out of Sailors

In the case of a fata morgana mirage, light reflecting from a distant object such as a ship is bent downward as it passes through the colder, denser air near the surface of the ocean (or sometimes cold land, particularly ice). But your brain places the object where it would be if the light came to you in a straight path—higher than it actually is. This bending effect can even work with the curvature of the Earth if conditions are just right, which is why some fata morgana images can actually be refracted cities and ships from beyond the horizon.

Fata morgana's most famous offspring, though, is the legend of the Flying Dutchman, a ghost ship said to sail aimlessly around the high seas. The tale was first popularized in a story called "
Vanderdecken's Message Home" from 1821, which told of a boat from Amsterdam that haunts the Cape of Good Hope, trying to hand off letters from its dead crew to the vessels of the living (uh, no thanks, the sailors would say, you can deliver your own damn mail). Warner connects this to fata morgana showing a ship from beyond the horizon: The mirage vessel could suddenly disappear with no explanation, and there you have your legend.

full article at

If you have a dog, you'll love this funny story


Monday, January 26, 2015

Wine in Song, with apologies to Doris Day

When I was just a little girl,
I asked my mother, "Which wine should I buy?
Should it be sweet wine? Should it be dry?"
Here's what she said to try...

Women's housekeeping & grooming instructions from a 1949 Singer sewing manual.


The text in question was in fact printed in a edition of the Singer Sewing Book written by Mary Brooks Picken (a prolific author of books on needlework, sewing, and textile arts) and published by the Singer Sewing Machine Company in 1949. The passage from which the text was excerpted reads as follows: 

Never approach sewing with a sigh or lackadaisical attitude. Good results are difficult when indifference predominates. Never try to sew with the sink full of dishes or bed unmade. When there are urgent housekeeping chores, do these first so that your mind is free to enjoy your sewing. 

When you sew, make yourself as attractive as possible. Go through a beauty ritual of orderliness. Have on a clean dress. Be sure your hands are clean, finger nails smooth — a nail file and pumice will help. Always avoid hangnails. Keep a little bag full of French chalk near your sewing machine where you can pick it up and dust your fingers at intervals. This not only absorbs the moisture on your fingers, but helps to keep your work clean. Have your hair in order, power and lipstick put on with care. Looking attractive is a very important part of sewing, because if you are making something for yourself, you will try it on at intervals in front of your mirror, and you can hope for better results when you look your best. If you are constantly fearful that a visitor will drop in or your husband will come home and you will not look neatly put together, you will not enjoy your sewing as you should.

FW: Geekend: HoloLens Makes Microsoft Cool

Check out the video -- for some pretty interesting technology.

Geekend: HoloLens Makes Microsoft Cool

In the HoloLens, Microsoft might at last have its version of the iPod, a cool product that turns the company's image around.

Thursday, January 22, 2015


‘The Man in the High Castle’ Depicts America Under the Nazis


The new series [on Amazon] is based on Philip K. Dick's Hugo award-winning 1962 novel of the same name. The book is one of Dick's best and most accessible. He was an author known for strange science fiction stories about the malleable nature of reality and perception.

Hollywood has adapted many of his works since his death in 1982. Blade Runner, Total Recall and Minority Report are the most memorable. But none of these adaptations quite capture the tone and feel of the source material.

The Man in the High Castle is different. It's good, and stays true to Dick's vision even as it strays from the specifics.

Those in charge of adapting The Man in the High Castle for television have, so far, done an incredible job. The set design gives the series a grounded sense of place.

From the opening moments in Nazi-controlled New York City to Japanese-held San Francisco, the background gives the series a stark and moody tone. The costumes are likewise incredible.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


He Invented Instant Replay, The TV Trick We Now Take For Granted

NPR's short piece on Tony Verna:

Tony Verna's most important achievement lasted just a few seconds. During the 1963 Army vs. Navy football game in Philadelphia, Verna, then 29, tried something that had never been done before in a live TV broadcast. "Here I am, a young director, and I can really be committing professional suicide if I mess up ... by attempting to showcase a new device," Verna told NPR's Day to Day in 2003.

That new device, instant replay, involved tape decks the size of refrigerators, housed in a giant truck. Verna was so unsure this would work that he didn't tell anybody else about it until just before game time.

"He said he waited until they were driving over to say, 'Hey guys, we have something we might be utilizing here. We're gonna have to see what happens,' " says Jack Ford, a correspondent for CBS News who produced a documentary about that game.

Verna's moment came when fans saw Army quarterback Rollie Stichweh punch in a one-yard touchdown run. Then, a few seconds later, they saw Stichweh's run again. It was the first instant replay.

more at

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Humor: All of my Issues With the "Goodnight Moon" Bedroom

Monday, January 19, 2015

Chocolates Whose Intricate Architecture Is Designed to Tweak Taste Buds

There aren't many chocolates that are as fun to look at as they are to eat. Then, there aren't many chocolates made by famous design studios, either.

Renowned Japanese design house Nendo created this singular box of goodies for Maison & Objet, a fancy furniture show in Paris. The idea was to experiment with one of the lesser explored aspects of the chocolate experience: texture.

All nine pieces in the limited-run box are the same type of chocolate, and they all fit within the same 26-millimeter cubic plot. But each has a unique architecture, and thus its own distinct taste. One of the chocolates looks like a clump of Buckyballs. Another is a hollow cube with a corner sliced off. The most aggressive looks like a little plot of spikes fit for a delicious booby trap. Each is named after a different Japanese expression for texture: "tubu-tubu," "zara-zara," "goro-goro," "poki-poki." Looking at them, you can imagine how one might be a dense mouthful, and how another might seem totally delicate.


A Saw Made with Shark Teeth

More Bite than an Old Saw? A Saw Made with Shark Teeth
January 19th, 2015

Francie Diep's article "Watch a Power Saw Made with Shark Teeth Slice Through Salmon", in Popular Science magazine, is well headlined, and has a video that shows a power saw, made with shark teeth, slicing through salmon. The research Diep describes was itself described by the researchers at a meeting earlier this month:

"Jawzall: Effects of Shark Tooth Morphology and Repeated Use on Cutting," CORN, K*; BRASH, J; FARINA, S; SUMMERS, A; Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, 2015 Meeting, P2-196 Monday, Jan. 5 15:30.

The investigators, at Cornell University; Valley Steel and Stone; Cornell University; and the University of Washington, report:

"Shark teeth both pierce and cut their prey, which is viscoelastic and structurally and materially heterogeneous. We propose a device for testing the function of shark teeth in a biologically relevant context with respect to their movement relative to the prey. We used this device to test whether tooth shape has an effect on cutting efficiency on a large actinopterygian prey item (salmon) and how quickly teeth dull. Teeth from four sharks, tiger (Galeocerdo cuvier), sandbar (Carcharhinus plumbeus), silky (C. falciformis), and sixgill (Hexanchus griseus), were attached to 30.5cm straight saw blades with epoxy. Each blade was mounted in a reciprocating saw and applied to a chum salmon with constant force. Published data report that Carcharodon carcharias shakes its head at 0.5Hz (~15cm/s). Our saw moved the teeth 35 cm/s. Our 'bite force' was substantially below that reported for sharks, due to of limitations of our system. There was not a significant effect of tooth shape on the area of prey cut per linear distance traveled. The mean area cut per cm traveled across all tooth shapes was 69 cm^2/cm. There was a significant effect of repeated use on cutting speed. After 12 reciprocations, a tooth cut only 7% of the tissue it cut on the first 6 reciprocations (at 5.7cm/reciprocation). This rapid dulling is enhanced by the high speeds at which we are cutting, as the fish tissues appear much stiffer at high strain rates. Sharks have very rapid tooth replacement and we propose this is driven by the speed of dulling from use."

List of animals with fraudulent diplomas


Friday, January 16, 2015

Baffled QVC Hosts Can't Quite Figure Out What The Moon Is


Here's a video that has us more than a little bit concerned about the state of science education in America.

During Monday's broadcast on the QVC shopping network, host Shawn Killinger and designer Isaac Mizrahi found themselves in a spirited discussion over whether or not the Moon is a planet. Just check it out above.

"Isn't the Moon a star?" Killinger wonders aloud, having seconds earlier called it a planet. 

"No. The Moon is a planet, darling," Mizrahi croons in reply.

"The sun is a star. Is the Moon really a planet?" Killinger asks, to which Mizrahi responds, "I don't know what the sun is."

Face palm. The conversation continues as Mizrahi asks someone off-camera to "Google the Moon," while Killinger contemplates whether or not the Moon might actually be a star after all.

We won't lie to you; it only goes downhill from there, with Mizrahi standing firm on the Moon's planethood, "because things live on it." (Sorry, Neil Armstrong.)

Snark aside, thanks to QVC for this teachable moment. The Moon is not considered a star or a planet; it's Earth's only permanent, natural satellite. And on average, it's just under 240,000 -- not a bazillion -- miles from Earth.

(h/t The Daily Dot.)

"Oh, my dear sweet Wesley, what have I done?"



Tuesday, January 13, 2015

I'm Rich, I tell 'ya! RICH!!!

Artist or Ape? Can you tell the difference?

Monday, January 12, 2015


 Men! I welcome you all to the town of Appomattox in the state of Virginia. We have gathered at this site for one sole purpose—to express our shared love of history and profound concern for its preservation. The final battle of the Civil War was waged here where we stand. On this hallowed ground, General Robert E. Lee surrendered his Confederate forces to the North, exactly one month ago, today.

Some of you may be asking yourselves, is it too soon? Should we give it more time before performing a theatrical reenactment of the events that occurred here? To that I say it's never too soon to seek a meaningful perspective on history. And also, to be fair, it's not like it was last weekend.

As I look out into the crowd, I see excitement in your eyes. I also see that many of you are still nursing some rather fresh-looking injuries from the actual Civil War. This, I contend, is merely further provocation to grab hold of history now before the wounds are healed and the memories, forgotten.

Yes, our "battlefield" is still smoldering and not yet fully cleared of casualties, but this will only add to the authenticity that necessitates a fruitful reenactment. During our two-day "battle," as you stand amongst your fellow "soldiers," the residual smell of gunpowder wafting through the air, the echo of distant cannons ringing in your ears, be prepared, at times, to feel as if you've been transported back in time to a bit earlier in the spring.

A bit of housekeeping: Remember that all hand-to-hand "combat" is to be scripted. I think you'll find this to be a fun way to learn what was actually said during the heat of battle. Scripts will be provided in your reenactment kits. In those kits, you'll also find all the gear you will require. What you won't find are any of the creature comforts of today. Remember, this is April. And we will LIVE like it's April!

Okay! Let's all suit up and have some fun out there! And above all, be safe!

Keep reading at

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Facebook is awash in silly buzzfeed quizzes, which prompted me to make one of my own:


A multitude of offensive odors fill our lives, and our noses.
Take this quiz to find out which one you are.

Some of these media quizzes ask random questions and give questionable results.
This is one such quiz. 

... but it does give you a tiny education into four foul-smelling chemicals.